If we were told ten years ago that AN OCTOPUS would make global headlines across platforms, I mean BBC, CNN, ABC and ETC (lol), it would have been a tough chord to chew and swallow.
I mean the last time I saw an octopus on TV, it was a cartoon character in Little Mermaid and I was a kid. Okay, let’s say a few documentaries on National Geographic (which I rarely watch) may have brought one or two to my vision. But this is the first time I am seeing an OCTOPUS make waves on global media at a go.
So what was special about Paul the Octopus, to give him/her (she could have been Pauline) a celeb status in a whole sea world full of OCTOPUSES?
This is what happened – Paul the Octopus ticked the boxes of journalism news values, made an A grade and gained publicity. Permit me to go slightly academic here, but I have to share this with you.
In 1965, two scholars did an extensive study on the structure of news. Their question was how to events become news? Their names were, Johan Galtung and Mari Holcombe Ruge (you can research them later).
They came up with this list of values the journalist considers before he or she decides “this will look good on my screen or newspaper.”
I will run the list by you, backed by a little explanation – then you will do the exercise of figuring out which of the values Pauline hit so hard BBC, CNN and co came rushing.
Frequency: the time span needed for an event to unfold itself and acquire meaning.
Amplitude: the more violent the murder, the bigger the headlines it will make
Clarity: must be free from ambiguity in its meaning
Meaningful: it must make meaning to the audience, especially in a cultural context (e.g. culture of football, I just dropped a clue)
Relevance: the event may be culturally distant to the audience, but it must still be relevant to people far and near
Predicatability: sometimes, you should be able to predict something will happen, e.g. we can predict the next world cup is in 2014
Unexpected: it should be rare, odd, not an everyday happening.
Continuity: it must be an event that has the likelihood of staying in the ring long after the event has occured. That is, it was so popular people will talk about it for ages to come (slight exagerration there)
Composition: let me help you out, this is not relevant here.
So I pray thee, play this game with me 🙂 pick one value you feel the journalist thought of before putting AN OCTOPUS in the news, and why. I will respond to every comment personally.
Just in case you didn’t know, Paul is the Octopus that accurately predicted some matches in the recent World Cup, and he died a few days ago. Paul the Octopus, Rest in Global Peace!!
I am waiting for you …